The versatility of pewter as a material is tremendous; it can be formed into replicas of classic styles, looking like a reincarnation of a Dutch Still Life painting, beautiful household objects artfully arranged, soulful enough to be the real thing, or it can become a contemporary design classic, fresh and modern using a timeless material. It is the transformation of the design idea, from an image in one's head, onto paper in a series of sketches, and then into an actual workable object, faithful to the Lombardy tradition of pewtering, that is the remarkable skill.
Creation of the prototype:
The first prototype can be made of wood, wax, directly in pewter and recently also taking advantage of the rapid prototyping of 3D printers. Got the prototype is necessary to duplicate it to get the pewter model that will serve as a matrix for the creation of the molds. The matrix is usually achieved by using the technique of sand casting as shown in the photograph shown below.
Each pewter piece is made up of a number of different moulds; one for the main body, and others for the different components. Some pieces require as many as seven different moulds. Modern moulds are made from silicon rubber, although some of the original iron moulds are still used and sometimes, for small quantities, are also used plaster molds.
The raw materials (tin, copper and antimony) are cut up and heated to 350° in a kiln, and very quickly a beautiful molten liquid is formed, which, using a casting ladle, is poured into mould with extreme care. Once cooled, the pewter is gently extracted and any superflous lumps and bumps leftover from the casting process are removed.
At this point any decorative chiseling an engraving is undertaken, including touchmarks, to enhance the overall character of the object.
Each piece is then assembled, welded and soldered by hand. This is an extremely skilful and technical procedure, especially with pieces designed to hold liquids.
By skilled polishing and then rubbing using increasingly fine graded wool, 'finishing' rids the surface of any roughness and imperfections, yet retains the character of the piece. The final buff is undertaken using a fine polishing cloth.